This past Friday morning, I was with Dan Weingartz, one of our board members at International Samaritan, on a tour of a medical clinic we helped to renovate in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. Just as we were finishing our tour, Selam Terefe, our inspirational IntSam director in Ethiopia, ran into the room shouting, “Abiy just won the Nobel Prize!” Cheers of joy filled the room as we celebrated the world’s acknowledgement of the peace that their nation’s much-loved prime minister has brought to their nation in just two years.
In a nation marred by generations of ethnic strife and violence, Abiy Ahmed has urged forgiveness and made historic strides at reconciliation among warring groups. Just two months after he took power in April 2018, more than 3,000,000 people came together to show support for his efforts in a rally that its social media organizers called, “Day of Love, Forgiveness and Reconciliation.” Not to be outdone, his opponents lobbed a hand grenade into the crowd that day, killing three and injuring more than 160 others.
Despite the violence and the danger, Abiy addressed the crowd and said, in part, “Hatred has bankrupted and diminished us… I am here today to tell you face to face that we have a country that is endowed with great bounty and wealth but is starving for love.”
Abiy (pictured right) won the Nobel Peace Prize because he continues to stand for love and forgiveness when the forces of hatred and war lurk in his own land. He leads Ethiopia with a spirit of grace reminiscent of Mandela after the fall of apartheid or of Lincoln throughout the Civil War.
As a supporter of International Samaritan, you are helping love to win. In the past month, more than 160 young people from the garbage dump community in Addis Ababa started school on a scholarship from our donors. That’s an increase of 100 students over last school year. Our team of three staff and ten volunteers in Ethiopia spent the summer visiting 300 families in their homes to award the scholarships wisely. Each of these scholars is a walking miracle, a testament to the power of love over apathy.
Dan and I got to hear the stories of these scholars as we sat in on the scholarship program’s monthly book club. For two hours, the students discussed The Law of Success, a book written in the 1920’s by a student of several of the great minds of the time, including Thomas Edison and Henry Ford. As they explored the role of self-confidence and how to build it for oneself, a young woman named Hannah shared how her self-confidence was crushed by her results on the national exam in her tenth grade year, which ended her dream of becoming a music teacher.
Messi, just a couple of years older, then shared how she had earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, refusing to let a broken bone and a surgery keep her out of coming back to the mat to compete.
“If you love music and want to teach, you can figure out a way,” Messi told Hannah, “So don’t give up on your dream.”
The world turned its eyes this week, if only briefly, to the inspiring leader of Ethiopia. While the media’s attention span has already shifted, Abiy’s campaign for love to win is on-going, and so is ours. You are helping love to win, not just in Ethiopia, but in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Jamaica, Nicaragua and Paraguay too. Young people who faced a brutal life working in dumpsites are pursuing their dreams, and encouraging their friends to do the same, because of Samaritans like you.
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